Our Top Software Picks for Managing Events, Teams and Logistics
You have a lot on your plate when planning an event, especially when it comes to coordinating people and resources. Whether you’re planning a community meetup or exhibiting at a trade show, your team needs to click like clockwork to make sure everything comes together perfectly on location.
Project management tools can help. As a concept, project management is the organization of people and resources towards a defined goal. Many great platforms like Eventbrite help manage part of an event, like guest ticketing and registration, but that is only one small part of the full lifecycle of event planning and execution.
Registration software won’t remind your caterer that the appetizers need to arrive by 6 pm through the service entry or tell your printer to overnight an extra 100 stickers in the correct format directly to the trade show floor. Those details require a highly flexible project management tool that can support myriad details, roles and assignments.
There are lots of project management tools out there to support teams and manage resources, though only one is designed from the ground up for live, real-world events.
Today we're going to breakdown the choices for project managing events. They fall into 3 categories: Project Management Platforms, To-Do List Apps, and Productivity Tools.
Event Planning vs. Project Management
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Project Management Platforms
If you have big, complicated event, with many moving parts and interconnected steps, like hosting conference or exhibiting at a trade show in another city, you’ll do well with a project management platform. Event logistics usually take the biggest chunk of event planners' time in the days leading up to and at events.
EventGeek is a project management tool made exclusively by and for events. As events people ourselves, we're a bit biased but we believe that event professionals deserve their own platform. Events are not knowledge projects - they need specialized management tools. The logistics and collaboration that goes into running a successful real-world event is very different from the process of creating software. EventGeek is currently in beta, but you can sign up for a free account here.
Productivity tools are a really broad category. The term used refer to essential workplace software like Microsoft Office. But in today’s mobile and collaborative professional world, the category is expanding to include both old and new solutions.
Pen and Paper
Ahh, the classics. Surprisingly, many event planners still use notebooks and paper pads as their go-to choice for managing events, though they tend to be on the old school end of the spectrum. While pen and paper are great at the ideation stage, they’re not collaborative, searchable or easily shareable, which is a problem when coordinating teams on-the-go. This old school approach is super easy to get started, but impossible to scale and share efficiently vs. a modern, software-based approach.
Email is the undisputed default tool for event teams and professionals everywhere. Email is easy. Email is ubiquitous. Email is right there on your phone. Email is... awful. Endless replies. Fuzzy search results. Zero collaboration. Email is the still the queen of events, and professional communication in general, but that’s changing as more event planners and professionals realize the limitations of this decades-old technology.
Google Docs is an incredibly powerful productivity suite of tools. And it’s free! But Google Docs has limitations. Ever try reading a Google Doc or spreadsheet on a mobile phone? Not a great experience. It’s also hard to control access permissions (ie, who gets to see and change what) in Google Docs. Once you give access to a doc, the kimono is open and everybody can peer inside. Does your caterer really need to see how much you’re paying your photographer? Nope.
To-Do List Apps
To-do list apps are great for keeping track of lots of loosely connected tasks, a good choice for grocery lists or casual events like birthday parties.
Todoist is another fun little to-do list app with collaborative features and a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to get stuff done when you have a long and varied list of errands about town. Todoist supports “human” due dates, meaning you can just type in “next sunday” or “in two weeks” and Todoist will understand. It also has special features for recurring tasks and visualizing your productivity, or time between tasks.
Which tool is right for you? It all depends on your personal style. Many event professionals prefer the flexibility, power and efficiency of project management apps over email, once they give the apps a try. But you'll need to be cautious